« Guitarist Ana Vidovic: polished and elegant | Main | Anne-Sophie Mutter, Reluctant Goddess »

Bill Frisell Rocks Lisner

November 20, 2006

The Washington Post 11/20/06:

frisell.jpgBill Frisell is nothing if not eclectic. He's been the most inventive and adventurous guitarist of the avant-jazz scene for most of the past three decades, absorbing everything from bebop to country to Motown to the bluesy riffs of central Mali and incorporating it all into his own cutting-edge work.

Original, sure, but luminously beautiful as well, as the guitarist showed on Friday night at Lisner Auditorium. Frisell led his eight-piece Unspeakable Orchestra through a set of works so new that most of them hadn't even been named yet. The evening opened with drifting layers of sound as delicate and elusive as the start of a dream. It then took off into a two-hour explosion of everything from bluesy meditations to get-outta-the-way eruptions of pure joy.

Well-known pieces like Thelonious Monk's "Jackie-ing" segued seamlessly into Frisell's own compositions, while shades of everyone from Ali Farka Toure to Ennio Morricone drifted freely in and out. And yet the set made deep intuitive sense and felt as natural as if it were being improvised on the spot.

Frisell is a consummate virtuoso but the archetypal anti-performer; comfortably rumpled in the world's least flattering plaid shirt, he stood off to the side, playing to his band rather than the audience. Taking only a few solos, he deferred to the Unspeakable players -- not a bad thing, since they're among the best on the new-music scene.

Greg Tardy, on tenor sax and clarinet, generated a lot of the evening's fire, while violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang and cellist Hank Roberts filled out the string section with wit and impressive chops. But bassist Tony Scherr stole the show. Self-taught, he takes a drunken-samurai approach to his instrument; you constantly think he's on the verge of disaster, but he produces some of the strongest, most imaginative bass playing you could ever hope to hear. The perfect partner for Frisell, in other words.

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2006 at 04:15PM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.